Natalie Portman. Scary Creatures. A dome shaped border that looks like a rainbow sheet of film. Welcome to the world of Annihilation by Alex Garland.
⭐ ⭐ ½
Annihilation is an unusually neutral experience. It’s one of those films that doesn’t quite reach greatness, but it’s also not terrible. It just leaves you feeling like, um… it was OK…
That isn’t to say it isn’t an enjoyable film – Annihilation does some awesome and innovative stuff. But there’s a whole lot of bullshit going on that brings it down to be just another sub-par science fiction flick.
Everyone has been raving about this film, claiming that it “completely challenges you” and is “really thoughtful and intellectual” and yes, it’s smart here and there, but nowhere near the level it’s being praised to be at.
The film has a trend of inconsistency – one that not only shadows the plot, but also, it’s visual aesthetic. The world within the dome can go from a burst of beautiful colours, to a shitty blend of dullness the next. While this may have been an intentional narrative decision, it nevertheless retracts from the entire experience. Wouldn’t it have made just as much sense to keep this world spectacularly designed throughout? It just misses the opportunity to be a fantastic film on a visual scale.
The same path of thinking can be said for the lead performances. Annihilation features three incredible actors, with Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Jason Leigh, but for the most part, each of their performances come across as stale and completely reserved . It does make some sense for Isaac’s character to be this way, but it doesn’t work well for Jennifer Jason Leigh at all. She delivers her lines in a neutral way and it doesn’t even feel like she’s fully there most of the time. Nothing she says seems to carry any motivation in any respect.
The actors can’t take the full blame, the fault ultimately lies with writer/director Alex Garland. Garland has the ability to write some fantastic ideas one second, then completely throws this away the next with some horrendous dialogue.
So overall, I would recommend seeing Annihilation, but it’s a suggestion that comes with no real sense of urgency. This is a very missable film, but if you do end up seeing it on Netflix, there are some aspects to enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if you come away from it and find yourself constantly responding to others with, um… it was OK.
Annihilation is available on Netflix in Australia
Image courtesy of Peter Mountain, Paramount Pictures & Netflix, Source: IMDb